A practical experience with Covid-19!
We have all theoretically heard about the deadly Coronavirus that causes the Covid-19 disease, which has been infecting people all over the world. But, I personally know a person who has practically dealt with this and it’s truly a very painful experience that tests the resilience of the body and soul. Let’s read his story and get inspired. My wish is that this story serves as a wake-up call for all those who take this pandemic very lightly. It is not.
My name is Aravind Mallipudi, a middle-aged professional originally from Andhra Pradesh, India who is currently living in New York City, USA. I am extremely health-conscious and have an optimistic outlook on life. I had a few underlying health issues since my childhood like Asthma and Bronchitis.
My life changed with the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic and my terrible ordeal started in March when I started working from home. I took extra good care of my hygiene as advised by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control). From March 20th, I had a persistent fever with a cough. Due to the fatigue, I just crashed on my bed and slept like a baby. My temperature kept fluctuating between 99 and 104.2 degrees Fahrenheit which scared me. I was taking Tylenol to control the fever but I also developed chills, headache and body pains. At that time the only three main said symptoms of Covid-19 were: fever, cough and a shortness of breath. “It could not be the Corona virus because I had always worn my N95 mask covering my mouth and nose when outside my apartment,” I thought.
As I suffered from the above-said symptoms my second aunt was an infectious diseases specialist who put me on a 5-day antibiotic course. But that did not help me with my symptoms. My fever was fluctuating, a splitting headache started, body pains, and the chills pushed me to bundle up and snuggle with a thick comforter in bed. I ordered my favorite burrito from a Mexican restaurant and it didn’t satisfy my taste buds at all! At the time, I didn’t know that Covid-19 could also result in the loss of taste.
On March 28th, as my symptoms got worse, two of my best friends who were professional Registered Nurses (RN), pushed me to go to the Emergency Department. At the end of the trip to the hospital, I felt as if I was going to faint! I was gasping for air when I reached the
reception area and was attended to immediately! I was tested for Covid-19. I was admitted and isolated in the hospital with a Non-Rebreather (NRB) face mask with a continuous oxygen flow. What a terrible time it was! A mix of fear and courage came over me. I knew that this was a killer virus and I had to tell myself that it was not my f@^&#! time to DIE. The test results came back positive and I was not in my full senses for a few days. The doctors would monitor my vitals and my mind would run helter-skelter at 1000s of miles of thoughts over the next few days. I had both my two best RN friends that I mentioned earlier, my uncle and my doctor aunty( that I mentioned above), taking charge by talking to my nurses and doctors and consulting with other medical professionals about my medical reports. They were my pillars!
On April 1st I was given the first dose of a trial drug called Sarilumab. The doctor saw signs of improvement even though I had severe muscle pains and numbness in various joints. Then there was the fatigue and mood swings. The anxiety and mental anguish continued until my doctor told me on April 13 that my blood tests were showing better indicators and he believed that the danger might have passed. Phew!
Over the next few weeks my blood was being drawn twice a day, the cough was incessant and the body pains, fever as well as the chills persisted. I slept most of the time and woke up to eat or get cleaned by the medical staff. Once I was able to talk a little and think a bit, I transmitted a Facebook live video from the intense care room to inform my family/friends of my medical status. This honest video received an overwhelming response of love and support along with creating awareness about this terrible disease.
On April 15th I received the 2nd dose of Sarilumab as the medical research team felt that I benefited from the first dose. My fever was now under control. I was still fatigued, had severe body and nerve pains. Thanks to the bed rest, medications and continuous monitoring from the nurses and doctors my body was fighting the disease and recovering slowly. April 18, the NRB was replaced with a Nasal Cannula Oxygen supply. As my body started recovering slowly and my fever and chills disappeared I kept the focus on eating to gain some strength.
On April 22nd, I was moved to a Recovery unit and I needed complete assistance to get there. My legs were gone after being bedridden for 25 days! Using the restroom was quite dramatic because my nurse had to bring in a portable Oxygen cylinder and assist me to walk just 25 feet to the restroom. I was later shifted to the Acute Rehabilitation division of the hospital and I was luckily moved to a window-side bed. I saw the Sun rise for the first time in almost 29 days and I saw rainfall the next day. Ahhh...the little pleasures of nature that we all take for granted.
On April 25, my Occupational therapist (OT) and my Physical therapist (PT) met with me and we started the very difficult process of my physical rehabilitation. With the help of the walker, I practiced standing. It felt shaky due to the loss in muscle mass. My body was deconditioned because of the severe viral strain that hit me hard. But it could not kill me. I was going to give my morning OT and afternoon PT my 100%. I was determined to get my balance back and walk on my own soon!
Every day seemed to be a struggle but also a small step forward. It was satisfying to see me progressing. Initially, I could not climb more than 3 steps as my legs trembled uncontrollably. But I remained motivated and made progress every day. I walked more steps within the hospital room with and then without the walker. I started with 4 feet, then, 16 feet and up to 60 freaking feet on my OWN. Yayy!!
On May 5, my external Oxygen was removed and it felt great breathing the room’s natural air without any painful tubes stuck in my nose. I felt liberating and more alive. On the other hand, tears rolled down my cheeks while I had some emotional phone calls with loved ones as no visitors were allowed. But I always told myself that the worst is over and it could only get better from here on.
I kept working and moving forward. It was only after a month that I could use the toilet in the bathroom by myself and have my first shower in the bathroom (with a walker and a bathroom chair). All these days it was bedside cleaning. We take all these simple daily things for granted but after a terrible illness it is a re-learning and re-adjusting process.
Thankfully my 2 Covid-19 tests came back negative and I was discharged from the hospital Friday May 15th. I was the LUCKY one. I was making it out ALIVE.
Upon my hospital discharge my best friend and god-daughter came to pick me up from the hospital. They took me to their home in Brooklyn, NY to take care of me further as it was not prudent to go back to my own apartment because I wasn’t completely independent yet.
Here I continue to get home PT, exercise on my own, eat her delicious home-cooked foods, take my meds, sleep comfortably, and play with the doggie. I am happy to inform you that I know ditched the walker because I am able to balance and walk on my own in the apartment and around the block.
Whatever be the Covid-19 damage to my body I’ll have to live and deal with it : the muscle, nerve, lung, liver damages, and the blood clot. I don’t want to look back and say: “Why ME ?” and feel pity for myself and cry but I want to look back and say: “I beat that darn Virus”. I’ll let the best qualities of Life guide me forward and know that I’ll make the best of my second chance because unlike the other 116,000+ who sadly died in the USA alone, I live another day to tell my tale.
I urge you all to be safe and follow the scientific and medical guidance of health, hygiene, and social distancing. See a doctor if you have any symptoms. Isolate yourself if sick and don’t infect others. Wear a mask when outside. Don’t follow superstitious beliefs or trust Covid-19 scams. There is still no cure or vaccine for Covid-19. You can only protect yourself by taking all precautions to save yourselves and your loved ones, especially the old and those with underlying health issues. Many hospitals don't have enough beds or ventilators if too many people get infected. At this point, prevention is the best! Stay safe Y'all and Be kind <3
You can contact him directly by:
Email -> Aravind.Mallipudi@gmail.com
FB -> Bantu Babu Aravind
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